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Disneyland Article
Disneyland Anniversary Extravaganza In A Day Whew

Author:Kelly Ardis
Dateline:June 24, 2015
Posted:July 06, 2015
It's A Small World
It's A Small World
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What do you get the park that has everything for its 60th anniversary? Nothing, because giving a theme park a gift would be silly. Instead, Disneyland is celebrating its anniversary this summer with a new firework show and parade, along with a revamped World of Color show at California Adventure.

The Diamond Celebration kicked off May 22; I went to the parks last Wednesday to see the festivities myself. Not a bad day at the office. Since I was being paid to be there, it was certainly worth the trip for me, but if you're thinking about planning a family outing this summer, there are a few things to consider.

Before that, though, let's talk about the fun stuff. There is plenty of special 60th anniversary merchandise throughout the parks but the shiniest diamonds in the milestone celebration are the new shows: the "Paint the Night" electrical parade, the street-to-sky "Disneyland Forever" fireworks show and the new "World of Color: Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney."

My quick take on the three: I love that "World of Color" finally changed after five years of being mostly the same show. The new production is similar in that it includes clips from various Disney movies projected onto fanned-out water, with dancing fountains and pyrotechnics for good measure. But as the name suggests, the new show covers the history of Disney, from "Steamboat Willie" to the opening of Disneyland to "Frozen." It's hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, delightful as ever. It's enjoyable, if a little too cheesy near the end.

Though we raced to see the "Disneyland Forever" fireworks, the show ultimately was canceled after a few fireworks due to technical difficulties, which is really too bad because, from the videos we watched on an iPhone while we waited for the parade to start, it looks incredible. Fireworks are great, of course, but after a while they're all kind of the same. But "Disneyland Forever" also projects immersive graphics onto the facades of Main Street's buildings, with the chimney-sweeps from "Mary Poppins" dancing along the tops or wildlife from "The Lion King" working their way across the plains.

"Paint the Night" takes the classic Main Street Electrical Parade and updates it with modern favorites like "Toy Story," "Monsters Inc." and, of course, "Frozen." Princesses and Mickey's gang are there too. The parade blew us away, and although we enjoyed "World of Color," this was easily our favorite. "Paint the Night" is more than lights on floats, though there are plenty of lights - about a million. The bright, colorful lights were incorporated in fun and innovative ways, like the moving rings on Slinky Dog from "Toy Story." Most impressive to me was the truck from "Cars;" from afar, it looked like a lit-up screen but as it moved closer, I could see it was actually strings of 25,000 lights lined up to fill the truck's hollow frame.

Now, how best to see it all?

If you're as fast as the Flash, you can see all three in one day. "Paint the Night," at Disneyland, has two showings - one at 8:50 p.m. and another at 11 p.m. If you're trying to do everything in one day, you'll want to go to the later one because "World of Color" is at California Adventure at 9 p.m. When "World of Color" ends 22 minutes later, you've got until 9:30 p.m. for "Disneyland Forever" - that's eight minutes to beat the crowds at the Paradise Pier area, get out of California Adventure, get to Disneyland and find a place amongst the people who staked out their primo spot at least 30 minutes earlier.

If you've managed this nearly impossible feat, bravo!

On Wednesday, "World of Color" started about three minutes late and though we left just before the end to avoid the mass of people leaving at once, we had yet to leave California Adventure before the first firework went up. It's hard to say how much of the show we would have made and how well we could see it from wherever we were since the show was canceled.

After the fireworks, though, you'll have a good amount of time to find a spot for the second "Paint the Night" parade. Eager to rest our tired legs, we found a spot to sit on Main Street and waited patiently for a little more than an hour for the parade, which starts near the Disney Gallery before heading down Main Street toward It's a Small World. Our spot let us see the parade at the start of its route and leave earlier, and with a much smaller crowd, than a spot toward the end would have.

For diehard Disney fans, going to the parks for the Diamond Celebration is a no-brainer. With two of the new shows back-to-back in different parks, they will probably want to spend two days at the parks to experience everything.

For the more casual fan, it might be better to wait until the fall when the crazy summer season is over. Disney hasn't yet announced how long the new shows will stay in the parks, so consider that while planning a trip.

Disneyland might be the happiest place on Earth, but it's not exactly the easiest place on Earth. It's a full day of walking, with sore feet wanting to jump ship before the fun is over. It costs a pretty penny just to get in, never mind eat or buy souvenirs. It's hot and crowded this time of year, two things that are rough on their own but absolutely terrible together.

But it is fun. A lot of fun, especially if you have good company when you go and if you know what to expect and how to plan.

In the past, Disneyland was an easy enough day trip but with traffic to and from Anaheim seemingly getting worse all the time, what should be a two-hour drive can take well over three hours. Because of this, my friends and I decided to leave Tuesday night at 8 p.m. and stay in a hotel so we could arrive at the park just an hour or so after waking up and start the day energized and well rested.

We got to the park around 8:30 a.m., half an hour after the parks officially opened, and stayed until just before midnight, when it closed. It was still a long day, but opting to drive down the day before made it a little shorter and kept our driver awake for the ride home. Both trips were a quick and easy two hours.

Teens and young adults will have the stamina to push through a day-trip, leaving Bakersfield around 5 a.m. and getting back home around 2 a.m., if they plan to make the most of their money by being there all day. For a family with young kids and possibly grandparents? I'm thinking that sounds pretty miserable.

In our 15 hours, we managed to hit a fair amount of rides and attractions at both Disneyland and California Adventure, but we were far from experiencing everything. Luckily, we had few "musts" on our list of rides and got most of those done, opting to take advantage of the "single rider" line for a couple. We also had to pass on some rides, like Space Mountain, because the line was too long and all Fastpasses had been claimed early.

A day trip to Disneyland works when you've been so many times you don't really need to do everything, because you can't do it all in one day unless you're lucky enough to go when it's not busy, which isn't going to happen any time soon.

If you're taking kids for the first time, the trip is probably a big deal to them and you. If you can spring it, go for two days to ensure your family can do everything they want to without the stress of running around trying to do the impossible in one day. If you can't, wait until the fall.

Attractions Referenced

It's A Small World

Space Mountain

Parades Referenced

Paint The Night Electrical Parade

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